Thursday, December 31, 2020

Tenderness by Derrick Austin


That summer I was a body. I was that body. The Body.
Overnight, a fog of linen inside the mauve Victorian down the block.
Another house empty for the season, for the season, for the season.
Hours built up on both sides of my bedroom door.
Morgan and Danez rowed in the Grand Canal at Versailles.
Morgan filled a postcard with her hands and memory.
Rose quartz? A diary? Holy water? (With what belief?) What could I have asked for?
Leaving my apartment for the first time in days,
I walked five minutes to Lake Mendota. Barking, honking, shrieking, grunting.
Men tested their bodies for each other and themselves.
Opened doors to admit the breeze, the possibility of that one guest.
When Emily Brontë wrote they’ve gone through and through me, like wine through water,
and altered the colour of my mind, she wasn’t writing about my depression.
Double tapped a photo of Morgan and Angel
posing near a green door with hinges older than the Constitution.
They read their black poems in English
to black people who spoke English and French and Arabic.
If I sent a postcard to everyone I loved
it’d say, Sometimes I think you’re just too good for me.
The most personal question I’m consistently asked: Why are you so quiet?
That I’m getting this all down wrong. That I’m getting it down at all.

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